University Projects

  • BTnode

BTnode

Customer: ETH Zurich [TIK]

Based on a Bluetooth radio and a micro controller, the BTnode is an autonomous wireless communication and computing platform which serves as a demonstration platform for research in mobile and ad-hoc connected networks (MANETs) and distributed sensor networks. The BTnode was jointly developed at the Swiss Federal Institute of Science and Technology (ETH, Zurich) by the Computer Engineering and Networks Laboratory (TIK) and the Research Group for Distributed Systems. The BTnode is currently being used in two major research projects, i.e. NCCR MICS and Smart-Its.

Our Contribution

Art of Technology was responsible for the industrialisation of the ETH prototype design and subsequent production of small to medium volumes.

  • Europractice MCM

EUROPRACTICE – MCM

European Commission, 4th Framework Project (FP4)

The rapidly changing market for embedded and portable computing exhibits a steadily growing demand for improved reliability and increasing processing performance in progressively smaller form factors. A Pentium® based Multi-Chip-Module (MCM) was designed and manufactured during the 4th Framework project «EUROPRACTICE-MCM». The main scientific and technical challenge of the project was to develop a technology demonstrator to show the potential of High Density Packaging (HDP) technologies.

  • Europractice MCM - Pentium

Advantages of MCM-based solutions

  • simplification of system design
  • internal routing of high-speed host bus signals reduces power consumption and ringing
  • high frequencies & critical signals remain inside MCM
  • standard simple interfaces (PCI, DRAM)
  • reduced number of signal layers on motherboard
  • less aggressive board design rules
  • reduction of motherboard area
  • significant reduction in size (¼ of original size)
  • overall weight reduction
  • easily upgradeable (new processors / chipsets)
  • reduced time-to-market (no board changes required)
  • improved EMC and thermal performance
  • end-user needs no Pentium® knowledge

Results

The Pentium® MCM was mounted on thermally enhanced Plastic-Stud-Grid-Array (PSGA), a packaging technology using plastic studs moulded to the body of the package instead of large solder balls, which provides reliable, low cost packaging of high pin-count devices. An existing Pentium® module chipset with 2nd level cache (9 chips plus SMD components), DRAM interface and PCI host-bridge was used with thin film on silicon in a PSGA housing which was significantly smaller than the original packaged Pentium® processor, i.e. 25% of the original packaged Pentium®.

The SP5MX1 is a miniaturised version of the core of a Pentium® processor based Multi-Chip-Module (MCM) which is intended as a processor subsystem for use in mobile and embedded systems. First tests were successfully carried out with Windows NT running and some benchmark programs at a clock frequency of 100 MHz.

  • GPS Data Logger (ZHAW)

GPS Data Logger (ZHAW)

Customer: Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW)

Under the leadership of the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), the research project «mafreina» tracks tourists in National Parks in order to capture and model the needs and practices of recreation seekers in the countryside, e.g. in the “Biosfera Val Müstair” Natural Reserve in Switzerland. Based on the HW and SW of the OEM GPS Data Logger, one of our existing semi-custom devices, the ZHAW GPS Data Logger offers large data storage and stops logging to save power when not in motion giving a 7-day recording capacity. The custom designed housing uses a special manufacturing technology particularly suited to small volume custom enclosures avoiding the need for expensive tooling.

  • GPS Data Logger (ZHAW) - Print

Our Contribution

  • use existing semi-custom GPS-Data-Logger (OEM)
  • integration of a low power motion sensor
  • use of existing parts to maintain affordable costs (for low volumes)
  • custom made enclosure for mechanical & environmental protection
  • POLAR - In Space

«POLAR»
(in Space)

Gamma Ray Burst Polarimeter «POLAR»

Customer: European Space Agency (ESA)

Despite being discovered in 1960 (Vela satellites) Gamma Ray Bursts (GRBs) are still full of mystery and the production mechanism of these very intense explosions in the universe is still unknown. To validate – or exclude – existing models about their creation, a precise measurement of the polarisation of the GRB is essential.

«POLAR» is a highly sensitive detector using the Compton Scattering Effect to measure the polarisation of incoming photons. With its large Field of View and a detection energy up to 500 keV «POLAR» will measure the polarisation of GRB emissions using low Z material Plastic Scintillators, multimode Photomultipliers and multi-channel ASIC Front-end Electronics. «POLAR» is scheduled for two to three years operation in space during which a large number of GRBs are expected to be measured.

  • POLAR - Onboard Tiangong-2

First official photo onboard
space laboratory “Tiangong-2”

  • POLAR - HVPS

High Voltage Power Supply (HVPS)

  • POLAR - LVPS

Low Voltage Power Supply (LVPS)

Our Contribution

Construction of the «POLAR» detector, the only non-Chinese experiment onboard the Chinese space laboratory “Tiangong-2” was performed by an international collaboration project with contributions from China, France, Poland and Switzerland. The scope of Art of Technology’s duties and responsibilities included:

  • Feasibility Study:
    investigate design of the existing front end electronics with respect to issues related to space applications in order to identify potential design errors or weaknesses and provide recommendations to increase reliability of manufacturing and overall system
  • High Voltage Power Supply (HVPS):
    system reverse engineering from breadboard, system re-design, development and manufacture of the High Voltage Power Supply with 26 settable power sources on 3 prints with 300 – 500 components per board (300mm x 60mm, 6 layers)
  • Low Voltage Power Supply (LVPS):
    system feasibility study, design, development and manufacture of the Low Voltage Power Supply (LVPS) with 82 switchable power sources on 2 prints with 800 – 1’300 components per board (300mm x 60mm, 8 layers)
  • Component procurement and production:
    EQM, QM’s and FM (at the end-user’s choice of manufacturers)
  • PermaSense - Matterhorn Instalation

Measuring Permafrost in the Alps «PermaSense»

Customer: ETH Zurich [TIK]

Permafrost is a thermal subsurface phenomenon; made-up of rock, ground and debris which is frozen throughout the year within the steep alpine bedrock. Not visible at the surface, Permafrost thaws during the summer months and can seriously affect slope stability leading to dangerous natural hazards which may hinder the safe operation of man-made infrastructure in the surrounding area. As PermaSense devices are installed and operated at high altitude in mountain regions with a permafrost environment, the system and all of its component parts must run reliably at low temperatures and be able to withstand large, daily temperature changes (in excess of 40°C) depending on sun irradiation, wind and snow.

  • PermaSense - Mountaineers

Due to the fact that the PermaSense devices are only accessible by helicopter during summer, a 2-3 year maintenance-free operation is absolutely mandatory. In order to ensure long-term, reliable operation the design of the system also had to take into the following demands into consideration:

  • extreme daily weather variations
  • danger from lightning, avalanches, rockfall, frost / ice and snow
  • limited power available from the battery
  • restricted space for electronics and battery
  • low production volumes & time frame
  • PermaSense - Matterhorn Basestation

Solution

Data is collected via a flexible, distributed wireless sensor network (WSN) which has been specially adapted to the geophysical sensors, thereby enabling reliable and high-quality measurements in the extreme environmental conditions. The system developed featured, in addition to the in-mast integration of the GPS receiver and antenna, a 2-axis inclinometer, all electronics and cables and a 12V photovoltaic system, the following:

  • wireless system with low latency data transmission
  • temperature measurements with sensor bars and thermistor chains
  • sensor nodes with “crack meter”
  • 2-dimensional measurement of gap movement

Our Contribution

Design, development and industrialisation of miniaturised wireless sensors based on functional (hardware) model, including:

  • development of wireless GPS-system (HW)
  • specialised sensors and electronics
  • robust package
  • low sampling rates (1-60 min)
  • battery operated (3 year lifespan)
  • networked devices with wireless data transfer
  • production of small batches of all product variants
  • 6 months from concept to first production batch
  • PermaSense - Summit
  • PermaSense - System Archictecture
  • PermaSense - System
  • QBIC - Q-Belt Integrated Computer

Q-Belt Integrated Computer «QBIC»

Customer: ETH Zurich (IfE)

Designed to be comfortable to wear without compromising reliability «QBIC» is not just a wearable computer, it also serves a classic function… keeping your trousers up! Heart of the «QBIC» is a Intel Xscale CPU (Intel PXA263B1C400) which runs at a variable speed up to 400 MHz. The belt contains a battery, real-time clock and system bus extension for peripherals. Moreover the belt provides plugs for USB and serial devices (RS-232), VGA connector and power connector which can be used to attach to a mains supply, or an additional belt-attachable battery.

The buckle, which can be removed from the belt and slotted onto a developer board (for convenient programming), contains two circuit boards:

  • a main board with the CPU, SDRAM and power supply, and
  • an extension board with the Bluetooth device, USB controllers and an MMC card slot
  • QBIC - Transparent
  • QBIC - Size Comparison

Architecture

  • QBIC - Architecture
Features
  • CPU XScale (Intel PXA263B1C400)
    – 400 MHz (scalable), 32 MB internal Flash
    – Dynamic Core Voltage Regulation
  • Memory
    – 256 MB SDRAM
    – MMC card slot (up to 2GB Flash)
  • Ports
    – USB (2 Host, 1 Client-optional)
    – 2 x RS-232C Serial Ports
    – VGA output (640×480)
    – GPIO-Pins
  • Bluetooth
  • Low Power RF Transceiver
  • 10 hour run-time (with external battery)
  • Hot-plug battery exchange
  • Small Size

  • QBIC

«QBIC» is a fully-fledged computer integrated into an everyday accessory – a belt !

Designed to Wear

Although originally developed as a research platform to collect and process sensory data for medical monitoring and context recognition projects, QBIC can be used for a variety of applications, e.g.

Typical ApplicationsProjects and groups using QBIC
  • monitoring medical parameters of critical patients
    (24 hours a day)
  • acquisition & analysis of data on user movement
    (for rehabilitation)
  • collection and analysis of user movement
    (for dance projects)
  • recognition & monitoring of daily activities
  • monitoring user actions in work processes
  • computer for reality games
  • location tracking
  • travel guide for tourists and travelers
  • Embedded Systems Lab
    University Passau, Germany
  • Fighting cardio-vascular diseases
    My Heart
  • Skoda car production
    WearIT@Work
  • gespag hospital management
    WearIT@Work
  • WearLab
    TZI, University Bremen, Germany
  • STIX - Solar Orbiter Experiments

The Solar Orbiter payload accommodates a set of in-situ and remote-sensing instruments, with a total payload mass of 180 kg.

STIX – Detector Electronics Module «STIX-DEM»

Customer: European Space Agency (ESA)

Art of Technology (together with prime contractor Almatech Sarl) was awarded a contract by the European Space Agency (ESA) for the design, development, production and supply of the Detector Electronics Module (DEM) to be used in the «STIX» instrument – a Swiss experiment on board Solar Orbiter, scheduled for launch in 2019.

Mission Objectives

Solar Orbiter will travel to within 45 million km of the Sun (¼ of the distance between the Earth and the Sun, closer than any other spacecraft to date allowing a portion of the surface to be observed for longer periods of time without interruption. The Solar Orbiter mission will address the central questions of helio-physics, i.e. how does the Sun create and control the heliosphere?

  • STIX-Telescope-Exploded-View

The «STIX» telescope includes an Imager (left) and Detector Module (right) (Photo: FHNW)

  • STiX-DEM - DeE Alignment

Optical Alignment of the STIX Detector Electronics (DeE-Q1)

The «STIX» instrument

Developed and built under the direction of the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, the «STIX» instrument will provide observations of the sun with unprecedented sharpness and direct measurements of solar winds and charged particles close to their point of origin. This new orbit will allow us to study the Earth side facing away from the sun and for the first time, the polar regions.

«STIX» will contribute to understanding the mechanisms behind the acceleration of electrons at the Sun and their transport into the interplanetary space. «STIX» will also play a key role in linking remote-sensing and in-situ observations on Solar Orbiter with imaging spectroscopy of solar thermal and non-thermal X-ray emissions providing quantitative information on the timing, location, intensity and spectra of accelerated electrons as well as of high temperature thermal plasmas, which are mostly associated with flares or micro-flares in the solar corona and chromosphere.

  • STIX - Telescope Exploded